October 2014

Notes from the Breadline Roxana St Thomas.jpgEd. note: Welcome to the latest installment of “Notes from the Breadline,” a column by a laid-off lawyer in New York. Prior columns are collected here. You can reach Roxana St. Thomas by email (at roxanastthomas@gmail.com), follow her on Twitter, or find her on Facebook.
As many of you know, waiting is an integral part of life in the breadline. You send out résumés, and you wait. You make follow-up calls to prospective employers — and wait. You hear that the nation’s economic climate is improving, so (although you see no factual indicia that this is actually the case) you dust off your interview suits, submit applications … and wait. You vaguely remember what momentum feels like, and what it feels like to have a life that moves forward. You think about getting up and walking away, about leaving frustration and disappointment behind you. But instead, because you have no choice, you wait.
This interminable waiting, of anticipating an event that never materializes, can become so familiar that, after a while, it barely registers. It also becomes progressively harder to identify what, precisely, you are waiting for. Movement is suspended; growth is deferred. The only way to stave off inertia is by clinging to hope, no matter how vague or ephemeral it seems.
On that bright note, we bring you Notes from the Breadline Community Theater. Because adult professional life probably doesn’t leave you nearly enough time to reflect on life’s baffling futility through absurdist theater, our feature presentation is — you guessed it! — an adaptation of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.” Since you all did so well on your Homework Assignments from the Breadline, you can go ahead and cheat on this one. The SparkNotes summary is here, and you can refresh your recollection of the text, in all its glory, here and here.
Now, dear readers, without further delay (hush! The house lights are going down!), we bring you “Waiting for Bono.”

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locked computer keyboard.jpgAllen Feingold, a former Pennsylvania attorney, really loved practicing law. Even after being suspended and eventually disbarred, he continued to service clients — and went to extraordinary measures to do so.
From Gina Passarella of the Legal Intelligencer:

[Feingold] created letterhead in the name of attorney Jeffry Stephen Pearson, another attorney who apparently handled some of Feingold’s files once Feingold was suspended. Feingold would use that letterhead, unbeknown to Pearson, to file pleadings and legal correspondence to lawyers, clients and judges, according to the complaint. Once Pearson learned of this, he changed his password for electronic filings with the court, but Feingold learned of the new password and continued making filings under Pearson’s name, the ODC alleged in the complaint.

To put a stop to his misconduct, a judge ordered the Office of Disciplinary Counsel to lock Feingold out of his offices.
Pretty bad — but it gets worse….

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Marcia Clark.JPG* Marcia Clark (!) has involved herself in the Roman Polanski case. Someday, this is going to make a great movie. [WSJ Law Blog]
* The trustees of Michael Jackson’s estate are suing the Heal the World foundation. [Popsquire]
* Maybe SCOTUS Justices are just a little camera shy? [Lowering the Bar]
* I have no idea what a “lifehack” is. Frankly, it sounds like something Neo, Morpheus, and Trinity could help with. Nonetheless, this is some solid advice for getting through law school. [Online College Tips]
* Texticular homicide. [True/Slant]
* Does the “Above the Law effect” explain increased bitching about the legal employment market? Could be. Could just be that the legal employment market is gawd-awful. [Concurring Opinions]

frootLoops.jpgWhen we were little, our parents let us eat Lucky Charms, Golden Grahams, and Chocolate Rice Krispies for breakfast. When we wanted to be ‘healthier’, we might eat Froot Loops. Over time, we came to realize that Toucan Sam did not offer any more nutritional value than Lucky the Leprechaun. (Now when we want morning fruit, we add bananas or blueberries to our oatmeal.)
Apparently, there are people in the world who didn’t have the same breakfast epiphany on the way to adulthood. They like to file lawsuits against breakfast companies for false advertising. The latest of these fruity lawsuit hails from San Francisco.
From San Francisco Weekly:

[Roy] Werbel recently filed a lawsuit in San Francisco federal court alleging that he bought and ate boxes of Froot Loops based on his mistaken belief the cereal contained fruit.
Kellogg’s intentionally deceived consumers into buying Froot Loops by misleadingly using the word “froot” in the title, Werbel alleges. He demands unspecified punitive and actual damages, to be paid to all consumers who have mistakenly bought Froot Loops cereal. Had Werbel known that “Froot Loops contained no fruit, he would not have purchased it,” his suit alleges.

After being misled by Froot Loops, Werbel turned to Cap’n Crunch Crunchberries. To his shock and surprise, they have no real berries. So he filed a second lawsuit against the Cap’n. Apparently, he didn’t hear the crunch of fellow Californians’ identical similar suits getting dismissed earlier this summer.
All of these easily-deceived Californians fail to get points for creativity. The original fruity suit snap-crackle-and-popped way back in 1983. See Committee on Children’s Television, Inc. v.General Foods Corp. [PDF]. That one was also filed in the golden state.
This leads us to wonder what’s in the milk in California… besides fake fruit.
‘Froot’ Is Not Fruit, San Francisco Lawsuit Alleges [San Francisco Weekly]
Froot Loops and Cap’n Crunch False Advertising Claims Rejected [Martindale]
Committee on Children’s Television, Inc. v.General Foods Corp [PDF]

Female partner bending over backwards.JPGThere are firms that want to make more female partners (and minority partners for that matter), but honestly do not know how to make that happen. Retaining top female associates through a couple of years of around 3,000 billable hours is just difficult, especially if those women want to have a family.
Over on the WSJ Law Blog, Ashby Jones explores the female partner problem facing Clifford Chance:

The issue was the topic of an interesting article this week in the UK’s The Lawyer. The focus of the article was Clifford Chance, which has pledged to increase its percentage of female partners to 30 percent.
As the Lawyer reports, however, “the firm has a long way to go.” Currently, only 15 percent of its partnership is female.

The Lawyer article explains that there is no quick fix to the problem:

“There’s no one thing that will solve the problem,” says Childs. “There’s no quick fix. It’s a long-term goal that we’re very focused on. It’s something that all firms face and there are many ways you can approach it.”
Aggressively pursuing a dramatic increase in female partners is problematic, Childs argues. Firms need to find creative ways to change their cultures and encourage females to strive for partnership.

Give Clifford Chance some credit here. You aren’t going to fix this issue without confronting it head on.
While firms contemplate their cultural impediments to dramatic growth in female partnership , Patricia Gillette — who is a partner at Orrick — sees one simple change that could make eating the hours a little easier for all attorneys.

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Unpaid intern JD attorney.JPGThere is nothing wrong with taking an unpaid internship. When you are just starting out and looking to get some experience under your belt, internships can be a great opportunity.
It’s just that usually lawyers who have been through three years of law school and passed one of the most difficult bar exams in the country aren’t in the position of having to work for free.
But times are tough. And at least one law firm in Menlo Park, California is ready to capitalize on the desperation of young lawyers. Here’s the key part of their Craigslist ad:

The current economic climate has made it difficult for young lawyers to find paid positions. Employment prospects improve with experience and a stronger resume. Good experience with a top notch firm is what we offer. If you can realistically make a six to twelve month commitment and can get by without compensation (other than billable travel, mileage, parking and related expenses), this is an excellent opportunity. We cannot make any promises of future paid positions. Candidates who have proven and distinguished themselves during internships, will be considered for future paid positions with the firm.

Let’s look at the positives of not earning any money and do a reader poll after the jump.

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Presidential Management Fellows Program PMF Program.gifAs we mentioned yesterday, some jobs with the federal government — an excellent refuge from the economic storm — are disappearing even before the application period closes. So we’ll tell you about this next opportunity even before the application period opens (which is tomorrow).

A tipster tells us:

I’m a longtime reader of ATL and a big follower of all the useful info and entertaining gossip posted on the site.

I notice you recently posted about the DOJ Honors program. I was hoping you might consider writing about the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program.

[T]he PMF program is a hidden, relatively-unexploited gem for graduating law students, and it has not received proper attention by most of the law schools’ offices of career services. While the DOJ Honors program and the Bristow Fellowship got pretty good publicity at my school’s career services office, nobody knew much about the PMF program. I heard about it through a non-law-school source, and had to go to my university’s public policy school for more information….

[T]he PMF program is one of the absolute best avenues for graduating 3Ls that are: (a) interesting in working for the government; (b) interested in public service; (c) willing to accept a government salary with average tuition reimbursement opportunities; and/or (d) voluntarily or involuntarily not planning to work for biglaw after graduation. Fellows can apply for a position from a wide range of government agencies, including the DOJ, State Department, Department of Defense, USAID, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Department of Education, Federal Elections Commission, etc. These positions are generally not available for public application because of stringent government hiring restrictions (agency preference, civil service preference, veteran’s preference, etc.)

Sound promising? Read more, after the jump.

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Thumbnail image for Summer associate job market depressed.JPGYesterday, American Lawyer released its 2009 summer associate survey. We noted that, predictably, summers were terrified.
That is the “what” from the survey. Law Shucks has crunched some numbers, and given us a little insight into the “why.” Here are the top ten firms as ranked by summer associates:
Summer associates top ranked firms.jpg
Do you notice a theme there? The firms that summer associates liked the best were firms that didn’t conduct massive layoffs before the summers showed up. Hmmm ….
You’ll have to click over the Law Shucks to see the charts on how the firms with significant layoffs fared. But after the jump, there is a surprising correlation.

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thank you post it note.JPGA quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Above the Law:

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  • Harvard Business School
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  • The Atlantic
    If you’re interested in advertising on Above the Law or any other site in the Breaking Media network, download our media kits, or email advertising@breakingmedia.com. Thanks!

  • coxsmith.gifOn Monday, we reviewed the new website of Ballard Spahr. The firm rolled out a new name: it’s just Ballard Spahr LLP now, and not Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll LLP. While it shaved some names from its moniker, it upped its photo count: attorneys had to take two photos for their bios, a head shot and a full-body shot.

    We created a poll and asked whether it’s acceptable for your firm to ask you to take a body shot for the website. Almost 70% of you said no.

    But Ballard’s not the only firm making its attorney do body shots. Commenters on the Ballard thread pointed us to another firm that requires both body shots and a bit of acting.

    They do it bigger and better in Texas. A San Antonio-based law firm, Cox Smith, makes its attorneys take three photos for their firm bio pages.

    A selection of the Cox “triple threat” photos — along with reader-provided captions, some of them irreverent, so consider yourselves warned — after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Cox Smith Attorneys Have Three Times the Fun Doing Body Shots”

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